Yesterday, in part 1 of this article, we introduced you to Go, a fun game that’s been around for 2,500 years and is now available for your PC. If you haven’t checked that article out yet, look it over. In part 2, we’ll look at some fun and exciting variations of the game.
Peter’s Go is a great version of the game and it is a tiny download.
It doesn’t even have an installer. Just open the zip file in the Downloads folder and drag the program out. Double click it in the Downloads folder to run it.
Click Options on the Edit menu and choose the board size. Pro players use a 19 x 19 board, but smaller ones are easier to play and result in shorter games for novices. Choose 9 x 9 to begin with. You can give yourself a head start when playing the computer by setting the handicap to four.
You are black and you play by clicking on the intersections of the grid. If you cannot or don’t want to make a move, click the Pass button. If both you and the computer pass, the game is over, the territories are counted and the winner is announced.
There are some useful features, like player vs player (you and a friend) and computer vs computer (you can watch and learn). If you aren’t sure what to do, select Hint on the View menu to see the best move. You can undo moves too. It is cheating of course, but useful when you are learning.
This is a great game and it is free.
Igowin is a free version of the Many Faces of Go game, with fewer features, but it is fine for beginners. Installation isn’t as straightforward as it could be and it is a self-extracting zip. It tries to unzip to C:\Program Files\igowin, but this won’t work on recent versions of windows.
When the installation utility says Unzip To Folder, enter C:\Users\YourName\Downloads\igowin. This creates a folder in Downloads called igowin. Open it and double click Igowin.exe to run the program.
You play as black and you are given a head start with the placing of five black stones on the board. Click to place a stone and the computer almost instantly responds with its own move. It is fast.
This is for novices and not experts. If you don’t mind playing on a small 9×9 board then it is good place to start learning Go playing strategies.
The website is in Japanese, so we don’t know what it says, but a little way down from the top is a link: Go Game (English ver.)ZIP. Click it and it downloads a zip file. Right click the newGoGame9Eng.zip file and select Extract All. This creates a newGoGame9Eng folder in Downloads. Open it and double click GoGame9Eng.exe to play.
Select New Game on the Game menu and you can choose to play against the computer or another person, whether to play as black or white, and there are three difficulty levels.
Some of the graphics are a bit childish, but it plays a reasonable game of Go. Using the buttons down the left-hand side you can take back bad moves, view the current score (the Position button), and see a hint if you can’t decide where to go next.
The fourth and final Go game is Leela Lite , which is also free. This is the only one of the four that has an installer and it adds an entry to the Start menu.
For a free program, it has a good range of features and clicking File, New enables you to choose the board size from the beginner 9×9 or the intermediate 13×13. You can play as black or white.
The Komi can be set (extra points to the player going second), and a handicap set (to make it easier for novices). Instead of a difficulty level, there is Engine max level with several options ranging from 100 simulations to 10,000. Lower numbers are easier and the game plays faster.
Normally play continues until both players pass, but Leela Lite lets you set a time limit, such as 30 minutes or an hour.
When playing a game you can take back moves, which is technically cheating, but useful when you are starting out. The score can be calculated, so you can see who is ahead. The territory for each player can be displayed on the board, which is useful because this aspect of the game is a bit confusing at first. (The player with the most territory wins.)
Leela Lite’s range of features make this the best of the four Go games.
Practice with these Go games and who knows, you could be challenging Google’s AlphaGo one day!
Author: Roland Waddilove. Roland is a freelance writer for the web and print covering Windows PC, Apple Mac, iOS and Android. He can be found at www.rawinfopages.com